Wednesday, July 27, 2011

After Oslo: Europe, Islam and the mainstreaming of racism

Miriyam Aouragh and yours truly:


An hour before Anders Breivik embarked on his massacre of the innocents, he distributed his manifesto online. In 1500 pages, this urgent message identified “cultural Marxists”, “multiculturalists”, anti-Zionists and leftists as “traitors” allowing Christian Europe to be overtaken by Muslims. He subsequently murdered dozens of these ‘traitors’, the majority of them children, at a Labour Party youth camp. His inspiration, according to this manifesto, were those pathfinders of the Islamophobic right who have profited immensely from the framing and prosecution of the “war on terror,” including Melanie Phillips, Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, Martin Kramer and Bat Ye’or.
Yet, almost before the attacks were concluded, a ‘line’ was developing in the mass media: it was jihadists and certainly an ‘Al Qaeda style’ attack. Peter Beaumont of The Guardian was among the first to develop this narrative, but it was rapidly taken up across the media. Glenn Greenwald describes how on the day of the attack “the featured headline on The New York Times online front page strongly suggested that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Oslo; that led to definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits.”  Meanwhile, “the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin wrote a whole column based on the assertion that Muslims were responsible”. A hoax claim of ‘responsibility’ for the attack from an unknown group, disseminated by a dubious ‘expert’, was used to spin this line well beyond the point of credibility...